This small restaurant, typical of hundreds of thousands of low end eateries in Saigon and elsewhere in Vietnam, appears to serve up rice with deep fried chicken (about $1.70) and five spices chicken noodles (about $1.90). I would not be surprised to find that these two meals and some beverages are all that is on the menu. Vietnamese fried chicken, by the way, is not dipped in batter before frying. The chicken pieces are simply rubbed in salt and pepper, then deep fried. Yes, the chicken is generally parboiled before frying.
This photo was taken when Minh and I visited Saigon in November, 2022.
A spectacular view across Da Nang Bay opens up as I drive towards the summit of Hai Van Pass. The pass goes over the mountains that divide Da Nang and the coastal plain to the south from Hue and the coastal plain to the north. Looking due east, Da Nang’s downtown area is hidden by low clouds just to the left of center of this image. The city, which now has close to 1.4 million people, has expanded along the south side of the bay, with urban development now extending almost to the base of the pass.
There is never snow or really cold weather in this part of the world, but there is definitely a winter season in central Vietnam. It is characterized by rain, overcast days, and the occasional damp chill with temperatures in the 60s. Laugh if you will, but when you live in a house that is completely open to the exterior environment and the temperature inside is the same as the temperature outside, a damp 65 degrees can feel pretty raw and uncomfortable when you are lounging around that house. Normally, the rainy, wintry season begins in late September or October and is over by early to mid-January. Not this year – unseasonable rain, wind, and low temperatures have been with us throughout February.
The small shrine pictured here is one of several near my home. This photo was taken during the Tet holiday in January; the shrine had been cleaned up and decorated for the celebration of Tet.
Thái Bình Lâu (太平樓) is located in the Imperial Citadel in Hue. The building was commissioned by the Nguyen dynasty emperor Khai Dinh and was completed in 1921. It was intended to be a quiet retreat where the emperor could read and rest. The Vietnamese name translates as pacific or peaceful; Thái Bình Dương in Vietnamese is the term for the Pacific Ocean. The Chinese characters 太平 over the door on the building front also mean pacific or peaceful, and 太平洋 is the term for Pacific Ocean in Chinese.